AN OREGON HUNTER'S EXPERIENCES
By EDMUND CLARKE
I AM not a subscriber to the H-T-T, but never miss getting one each month; I very seldom hear from the boys in Oregon, Washington, or Idaho, and these three states are certainly a joy to a hunter and fisherman. With your permission, I will tell of one of my little hunting trips that took place in the Cascades about seventy miles east of Seattle and near Lake Keetchlus.
Lake Keetchlus lies at an altitude of about 2,290 feet and is (so they tell me) about 3,000 feet in depth. The surrounding country is ideal for deer, bear and goats, being void of thick brush, and the timber (after one gets up about 400 feet higher) lays good, with here and there a bare place called parks. The going gets rougher as one climbs higher and landslides covering several acres are often encountered. There are numerous small lakes in this range of mountains, laying just below the summit, and one can catch all the trout he can take care of, providing he does not scare them away, because these lakes are hard to approach on account of the steep banks and clear water, but once in a good position and one can pull them out as fast as he can bait his hook. Salmon eggs, grasshoppers or worms are good bait. Once in a while one can use a fly if there is wind enough to rough up the face of the water, but these lakes are so well sheltered that it isn't often found. My neighbor, Mr. Clement, and I started out one morning bright and early, crossing the lake in Mr. Clement's skiff. It was a beautiful morning in the fall of 1914 — and our mouths were watering for a juicy venison steak or a nice roast of bear meat, we were not at all particular which. We chose a ridge and followed it to the summit. On the way up we saw lots of deer signs an
We were getting disappointed, and about noon we started back towards the lake; we were ranging along the side of the mountain just below the ridge, Mr. Clement keeping about 100 yards above me. We had almost come to the conclusion that our dream of venison steak and roast bear meat was due to go up in smoke, when all at once, directly in front of me, there was a loud scramble and a rush, and a second later Mr. Clement's 22 high power cracked twice, and when I arrived at the scene, all that was once a beautiful deer was lying at our feet, waiting our next move.
It was a 125 pound black tail, and we lost no time in cleaning it, and then we skinned out the hind quarters, Mr. Clement taking the front quarters in the hide, and I slipped my jumper over the hind quarters, putting the legs in the sleeves and buttoning it up.
It was getting late, and we knew that we must hurry or it would be dark before we could get out of the timber, and we were not prepared to camp out over night. So we thought we would take a short cut and lessen the distance to the lake. Unfortunately, we chose the wrong ridge, which ended in a sheer drop of two or three hundred feet, so we were compelled to retrace our steps to a point where we thought we could make the descent without any danger; although it was almost straight up and down at this point there were plenty of trees and brush that we could cling to on the way down.
It was just about dark, and being quite tired, thought I would drop my load and take a short rest before making the descent In letting it fall to the ground, I did not realize that I was so close to the edge of the decline, and before I couldn’t catch it, away it went down the mountain side, bumping over rocks and tearing through the brush, and there was where I said "good night" to that bunch of meat. We listened until it stopped, and making our way down the steep mountain side, looking all the way for our meat, until we reached the bottom. Mr. Clement found a suitable tree to hang the front quarters on, and then we both hunted for the hind quarters until it was so dark that we were compelled to give it up, resolving to come back early the next morning. Leaving the front quarters hanging in the tree we made our way to the lake, often having to feel for the trail with our feet, for it was so dark by this time that our eyes were of very little use. We made the trip to the lake without mishap, and lost no time in crossing over and getting our supper. .
The next morning we started back again, and had no trouble in finding what was left of our deer, still hanging in the tree where Mr. Clement had left it. Evidently, the cats were in other parts that night, or probably (as we thought) had been satisfied with the hind quarters, and had not bothered the part that was in the tree. We had no idea of finding the half that had parted company with us so abruptly the evening before, taking it for granted that the carnivore which infested that part had made short work of it. The choice part of a fresh killed deer would not be overlooked by any of the gentle folk that roam the mountain forest at night, that we were very sure of. But I was curious to see where we made the descent, by the light of the sun, and I also wanted to locate some landmarks in case we should happen to, or be compelled to,- come that way again in the future. Starting back up the mountain, in fact, I had hardly gotten under way, when there, lodged in the roots of a fallen tree, was the rest of our deer, all buttoned up in my jumper, just as it was the last time I had seen it, bouncing away down the mountain side. To say we were tickled would be putting it rather mild; we were perfectly contented. We loaded up and started for home once more, arriving all O. K. with our meat, and I must say that I have never seen a deer that was in as fine shape as that one. It was as fat as it could be, and as tender as chicken. We also found plenty of mushrooms and it was not an uncommon thing for us to sup on venison steak smothered with mushrooms.
Salmon will be running soon, and any of you boys that would like to take advantage of the spring rates to the Pacific Coast and return, will find the steel head salmon is worth hooking. I do not know of a gamier fish than he is for his size.
Hunter-Trader-Trapper. October: 1921,
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